Massive Zelda Wiki claims independence six months before Tears of the Kingdom

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Link stands his ground against a ferocious monster in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC, The Master Trials.

Earlier this month, the wiki hosting company Fandom picked up several game sitesincluded giant bomb Y GameSpot, in an acquisition worth 50 million dollars. And that exorbitant asking price, coupled with what the website calls “questionable personnel decisions” at the company, has led to the Zelda Wiki breaking free of “corporate consolidation” and reclaiming its independence from Fandom.

Launched in 2005 and independent until its transfer to Gamepedia hosting in 2017, the zelda wiki is one of the biggest fan-run gaming wikis. With thousands of game entries across the franchise, you could spend days or weeks scrolling through the digital encyclopedia and probably still won’t finish it in its entirety. It’s my go-to resource when looking for information on a specific enemy or weapon in Nintendo’s popular franchise, and contains 11,199 articles. However, you will now have to visit an entirely new website if you have bookmarked and/or frequented the old Zelda Wiki.

Staff on the website announced on Twitter this week that, “after many months of preparation”, the website is now fully independent from Fandom or any other entity.

“For more than a decade, from its inception in 2005 until its transfer to Gamepedia in 2017, the Zelda Wiki was a fully independent site,” the wiki’s EIC wrote. “Even after the transfer and subsequent acquisition of Gamepedia by Fandom, Inc., the site sought to continue its mission of creating a high-quality, editorially independent, fan-operated wiki. However, we have come to believe that these ideals are incompatible with Fandom.”

There was a reason for such a scathing statement. Citing Fandom’s “recent purchases and questionable staffing decisions,” the Zelda Wiki staff said they want to “keep the Internet free from corporate consolidation” and “hegemonic control.” As such, the team moved the wiki to a new homethough the fandom is still running.

Responses to the news have been overwhelmingly positive online. Several people have called this a big win for the Zelda Wiki, while others are looking forward to fewer ads Y better design in the place. Even the Fallout Wiki Twitter account, one of the few publicly estranged from Fandom for intrusive videos and ads on the site, congratulated the Zelda Wiki team for breaking up with the company. In general, there is some public caution about Fandom’s growing influence over fan-run wikis that have provided useful free resources to the community about major franchises. As such, there is now even shared resources for alternatives to Fandom Wikis, and some encouragement in the comments of this announcement for more wikis to do the same. While there are independent wikis, over the years Fandom has become the most dominant website when people Google certain topics.

In Discord messages with KotakuCommunity staff member ModdedInkling said the old Fandom wiki “will continue to be updated” by some volunteers who have chosen to remain there. However, almost everyone else will be moved to the new website domain. ModdedInkling also explained what this independence means for the staff.

“Being ‘editorially independent’ means having complete creative control over wiki content under your own policies as opposed to Fandom’s policies,” ModdedInkling said. “This also includes the overall look and feel of the wiki (UI, templates, etc.), which has been one of the main topics discussed by many independent wikis that have spun off from Fandom. Another topic of interest is avoiding mandatory censorship. Certain wikis also have content involving sociopolitical and ethical issues that are often restricted by fandom, but are considered relevant by the community.”

ModdedInkling extrapolated the nature of Fandom’s alleged censorship. He said that while nothing has been locked on the Zelda Wikia (to his knowledge, anyway), there have been some post-post edits on other wikis.

“Basically, Fandom policies can invoke a level of censorship on certain sensitive topics, even if it’s relevant to a work of fiction, if it’s deemed to be against their policy,” ModdedInkling said. “Sometimes it can also involve altering one’s information, even if it’s less accurate. This can happen across a variety of topics, such as discussions involving retroactively changing a character’s traits, even if it was historically inaccurate to change it.”

ModdedInkling mentioned a case where Fandom’s policies got in the way of making available what they consider to be accurate information. In Wookieepediathe Star Wars Digital Encyclopedia, there were allegedly complications in changing the name of someone who later turned out to be trans.

“There was a debate about the naming conventions of someone who later identifies as trans,” ModdedInkling said. “The mandate was to retroactively change any of the display names for the person or character, even though that was not what they were called at the time. I don’t remember if he was a real life person or a fictional character. It didn’t cause them to branch off, but it was a concern that NIWA had in potential examples involving character pronouns like Vivian de Paper Mario: The Millennium Doorsheikh of ocarina of timeor Villa of breath of the wild.”

ModdedInkling clarified the example to kotaku, saying that it is not representative of his beliefs or the rest of the Zelda Wiki team. He noticed Alliance Independent Nintendo Wiki, a network of other wikis for Nintendo games, has a goal of “handling sensitive topics with care to avoid any kind of misrepresentation”. This, she noted, aligns with the ideals of the Zelda Wiki teams.

Kotaku has reached out to Fandom for comment.

The Zelda Wiki is only the most recent digital encyclopedia to be spun off from its parent company and the third to be spun off from the Fandom specifically in recent memory. Earlier this year, the team behind the Terraria Wiki announced on Steam which will host a new separate Fandom site. Meanwhile, Runescape Wiki became independent years ago in reply to corporate mandates to automatically play videos in publications The Zelda Wiki can now be found in the NIWA databasewhich includes other volunteer-run independent websites such as Bulbapedia (the digital encyclopedia dedicated to all things Pokemon) Y SmashWiki.

Update, 10/21/22, 6:30 p.m. ET: Added clarifying statement from ModdedInkling.

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